Daily news roundups

“Another disappointing loss”: Recaps and reaction to another loss, league news, more

Photo: Doesn’t look offside to me.

Philadelphia Union

Sapong arrested early Friday morning and ineligible to play. Lahoud subbed out five minutes after the opening whistle. An Aristeguieta goal that appears to have been wrongly disallowed for offside.

Whatever the Union have done to anger the soccer gods must have been pretty bad because they just can’t catch a break.

Of course, when you muster but one shot on goal in 90 minutes of play, it’s tough to blame fortune for being tight with the favors.

Jim Curtin said after Saturday’s defeat:

It’s another disappointing loss. The game starts out and we have an injury in the fifth minute. The tempo was too slow with the ball for us and a little sloppy at times for us to make that move from side to make some holes open up. When we were able to do that we weren’t clean with the ball inside the box at all. The second half I was actually proud with the effort the guys put in. They pushed the game, pushed the tempo and a couple chances that were blocked in front of the goal. There wasn’t lack of effort. They are working very hard. We’re not catching any breaks right now. And we haven’t had the quality that we would like on the final ball and the final run in the box to get on the end of something. It’s tough times right now, for sure. The group is doing their best to stick together.

Zach Pfeffer pointed to the Union’s improved possession numbers as a positive. “We had a lot more of the ball and we definitely created a handful of chances at the end of the game. So we have to look at that as a positive.”

Of course, possession numbers will improve when your opponent is content to concede possession as Toronto did once they took the lead. Sebastien Le Toux said, “They defended with eight guys – it was their plan and they did very well. And we were very inefficient offensively. One shot [on target] is definitely not enough, especially at home. Right now we’re not scoring goals, so it’s a bit frustrating.”

One bright spot was fine play in an unexpected debut from Richie Marquez, who came on for the injured Lahoud. “I think I was ready for the opportunity, so in my head I was preparing,” Marquez said after the loss. “I think the coaches and the players prepared me for this situation. We train hard. The coaches emphasize confidence, and the players believe in me as well. They’re not only my teammates, but they’re my friends, which is important. I felt ready and I felt confident out there.”

Curtin said of Marquez, “Athletically, he can compete at this level. Speed-wise, he’s as fast as anyone on our team. Aerial, probably a top guy on our team, so he gives you a presence at center back. Good performance from him, I think he showed he belongs in the league and I think he was a bright spot tonight.” Speedy and a top aerial guy on the team? More looks, please. I mean, why not?

Curtin said after the game that Ray Gaddis would be starting at right fullback moving forward. “I think that that’s going to be his spot now, and Shea and [Fabinho] will battle for the other spot.” Asked if the club is in the hunt to bring in a proper left back, Curtin said, “We are still pursuing that.”

Recaps from PSP, Philadelphia Union, Inquirer, Delco Times, CSN PhillyPhilly Soccer News, Brotherly Game (recap, analysis), Philly Sports NetworkVavel, Playing for 90MLSsoccer.com, Toronto FC (recap, analysis), Toronto Sun, The Canadian Press, Red NationWaking the Red, SBIProSoccerTalkProst AmerikaMLS MultiplexSports MoleThe Sports Network, and the AP. Photo galleries from USA Today and NJ.com.

At the Delco Times, Matthew De George reviews how one factor contributing to the Union’s sputtering offense has been a continuing string of injuries: “The laundry list of injuries is remarkable, and while they’ve largely been minor, there’s been scarcely a training session where someone integral hasn’t been missing.”

De George quotes Curtin: “The injury thing, I can’t put a finger on it. We have more resources to keep guys healthy, and all the soft-tissue injuries that we’ve had, it’s been perplexing. We’ve looked at training regimen and the time, we monitor how long these guys are on the field to the minute, the distance covered to the meter and it’s crazy how many injuries we’ve had. But again, other teams have injuries, too.”

Of course, players haven’t been missing just because of injury. Late on Friday night, the Union announced that CJ Sapong had been arrested for reckless driving and DUI and, per league policy would be ineligible to play until an assessment had been completed by Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health (SABH) Program doctors. It was yet another in the bewildering run of bad fortune that has surrounded the team since the start of the season, with Sapong being among the few bright spots in the Union attack since his return from the facial fracture and concussion he suffered in the first half of the season opener.

Curtin said of the Sapong arrest, “We’re still evaluating, getting all the information on exactly what happened. So we’ve had contact with CJ, we have his side. We’re going to believe his side, of course. We’re going to stand by him. He made a mistake, there’s no question about that. So it’s something that we’ll handle internally.”

At Philly.com, Jonathan Tannenwald reports that Sapong will face the next step in legal proceedings with a hearing on May 11.

Dave Zeitlin reports at CSN Philly, “Per public court records, Sapong was arraigned Friday night in Philadelphia and it was a first-time offense, meaning he will likely try to enter the ARD (Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition) program and be able to avoid jail time.”

At ASN, Josh Deaver projects Zach Pfeffer will be selected for the US team that will compete at the upcoming U-20 World Cup in New Zealand. Deaver also expects local lads Zack Steffen and Russell Canouse to be selected.

Union Academy

The Academy U-14s were scheduled to play Baltimore Bays Chelsea on Friday but, as of this writing, no information on the game is available on the US Soccer Development Academy site nor on the Academy Twitter account (no information on any of the Academy team’s games was posted on Twitter over the weekend). On Saturday, the U-14s Aziz Saidi opened the scoring against PDA in the 16th minute but the team was defeated 3-1. (The possible result on Friday excepted, the team’s record is 12-3-4.) A second half hat trick between the 61st and 77th minute from Justin McMaster, as well a first half tally from Alexander Soto, saw the U-16s (second in the East Conference, 19-2-1) defeat PDA 4-0. The U-18s (fourth in the East Conference, 10-6-6) fell 3-2 to PDA but, as of this writing, no information is available on the goalscorers.

Union U-16 defender Auston Trusty has been called up for the US U-17 MNT training camp in East Hannover, NJ. The camp opened May 2 and runs through May 11. Other area players on the team include Kevin Silva (PDA; Bethlehem, Pa.) and Matthew Olosunde (New York Red Bulls Academy; Trenton, NJ).


Harrisburg City Islanders (2-2-1) defeated Wilmington Hammerheads 4-0 on the road on Saturday, climbing to seventh place in the Eastern Conference. Ken Tribett scored a brace with additional goals from Brett Jankouskas and Jason Plumhoff. Recaps at USLPenn Live, and StarNews Online.

The City Islanders and Ocean City Nor’easters will hold a joint tryout on Sunday, May 10 at the Tennessee Avenue Soccer Complex in Ocean City.

On how the Temple men’s and women’s teams are using the spring season to prepare the fall season.

Longtime Philly-based soccer writer Frank Bertucci has died at the age of 68.


In the Eastern Conference, first place New England (17 points, 5-2-2) handed third place New York Red Bulls their first loss of the season (13 points, 3-1-4), winning 2-1. Second place DC (17 points, 5-1-2) defeated fourth place Columbus (11 points, 3-3-2), 2-0. Fifth place Toronto (9 points, 3-4-0) defeated ninth place Philadelphia (6 points, 1-6-3), 1-0, on the road. Sixth place Chicago (9 points, 3-4-0) lost 1-0 to Kansas City on the road. Seventh place Orlando (8 points, 2-4-2) had the weekend off from league play. Eighth place NYCFC (6 points, 1-5-3) lost 3-1 at home to Seattle. Last place Montreal (2 points, 0-2-2) had the weekend off.

In the Western Conference, first place Dallas (17 points, 5-2-2 ) defeated seventh place Houston (10 points, 2-3-4), 4-1, on the road. Second place Vancouver (17 points, 5-3-2) drew 0-0 on the road with eighth place Portland (10 points, 2-3-4). Third place Seattle (16 points, 5-2-1) defeated NYCFC, 3-1. Fourth place Los Angeles (13 points, 3-2-4) drew 1-1 at home with tenth place Colorado (10 points, 1-2-6). Fifth place Kansas City (13 points, 3-2-4) defeated Chicago, 1-0. Sixth place San Jose (10 points, 3-4-1) drew 1-1 with ninth place Salt Lake (10 points, 2-2-4).

The league announced the 2015 Roster Rules on Friday.

Soccer America summarizes:

Roster size: maximum 28 players (down from 30)
Salary cap: $3,490,000 (up from $3,100,000)
Maximum salary hit: $436,250 (up from $387,500)
Minimum salary: $50,000 (up from $36,500)

At SI, Brian Strauss reports the salary cap “is expected to increase an additional seven percent annually through 2019.”

The league has also made public a list of players subject to allocation (the Union are fifth in the allocation rankings). Players not on that list are subject to discovery claims.

MLS executive vice president of player relations and competition Todd Durbin said of the new allocation rules, “There will be no ambiguity as to which players will go through the allocation process. The second aspect of it was for us to take a look and see if we could reduce the number of players the allocation process applies to, thereby making more players available to teams on a first-come, first-served basis.”

More on the new roster rules at ESPN and Philly.com.

DC United have signed goalkeeper Bill Hamid to a multi-year contract extension.

Orlando City’s Kevin Molino is out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL suffered in Saturday’s friendly with Brazilian side Ponte Preta. Orlando won, 3-2.

NYCFC have signed defender RJ Allen.


First place Portland had the weekend off. Second place Chicago (7 points, 2-0-1) defeated seventh place Sky Blue (4 points, 1-2-1), 1-0. Third place Seattle (6 points, 2-2-0) defeated fourth place Washington (6 points, 2-2-0), 3-1. Fifth place Kansas City (6 points, 2-2-0) defeated sixth place Houston (4 points, 1-2-1) 2-0 on the road. Eighth place Western New York (3 points, 1-2-0) defeated last place Boston (3 points, 1-2-0), 3-1.


The US U-15 team won its first international tournament under former Union head coach John Hackworth on Friday, defeating Austria 3-2 at the Tournament delle Nazioni.

With Tobin Heath likely to be unavailable for the first two games of the USWNT’s sendoff series before the Women’s World Cup witha hamstring strain, Crystal Dunn has been called in to train with the team.


Reuters reports, “Palestine will seek Israel’s expulsion from world soccer’s governing body at this month’s FIFA Congress, FA president Jibril Rajoub has told Reuters.”

Reuters reports, “Police fired percussion grenades inside the Estádio Castelão in Fortaleza, as fans fought at the 2014 World Cup stadium on Sunday following the end of the Ceará state championship final.”

The AP reports, “A man died after being hit by a rubber bullet and 14 police officers were injured in clashes that erupted Saturday during a Polish league football match in the south of the country.”



    CHESTER, Pa. — The Philadelphia Union clown car kept on rolling overnight Friday.

    In a bid to usurp Toronto FC as the league’s punching bag, the Union is doing everything it can to gradually become a laughing stock. ”

    does not feel good

  2. pragmatist says:

    I’m sure we’re going to get more Chicken Little-type reactions today, but I can’t shake the feeling that if Aristeguieta’s goal had been allowed, there would be a different tenor around this team. A 1-1 draw would have instilled a bit of optimism, even with the lack of shots. Instead, everyone will continue in full panic mode.
    This team just needs to catch a few breaks…or at least avoid the bad ones. A little momentum could go a long way.

    • A draw would have been something. The Union have certainly earned much of its dismal record so far, but it’s also been as unlucky as you can get. The team hasn’t gotten a single break.

      The team played reasonably well Saturday, too. We would have felt pretty positive with a draw I was at the game across the field from the River End and got a great view of two really nice defensive plays from Ethan White in the second half. Marquez was very good. Ayuk looked dangerous.

      It’s going to be tough to pick up points in this next stretch of play against some pretty good teams. I’m tired of bitching about the team. Got no more energy. Just going to watch the rest of the season and see what happens.
      Maybe I’ll say 5 Hail Peles, light a candle to the Blessed Maradona, kiss my Medal of the Saint Salvatore Schilaci and hope for a few miracles. We’re going to need em. … I’ll have to consult my Union Bible.

    • el pachyderm says:

      I don’t think anybody is panicking pragmatist – all we can do is observe and report. I wrote about luck in another post this weekend and yea, a good break could help, but would it really…. just be the antidote to snap this team out of it?
      This team is carrying the weight of its karma everywhere and they are rather ‘heavy’ to be around. The club is the Debbie Downer- not us.
      Goalkeeping a mess? Check.
      Defense a mess? Check.
      Midfield play pretty bad? Check.
      Scoring? Check.
      No sky falling here. Just observable points of fact.
      skewer skewer skewer skewer skewer . . .until they get it right.

    • The Black Hand says:

      I have been in full panic mode for about two years now. The writing was on the wall. It will get worse!

  3. Not panicking here. Just really disappointed in the team, especially the mismanagement from the FO. The coach doesn’t seem to know how to coach. The training staff can’t seem to prevent injuries. The technical director keeps signing players who are seemingly injury-prone. We’re just not as good as other teams. Seems like we’re spending just as much as teams like Columbus and DC United, but they are far far better than us. Curtin’s body language sucks. Sits on the bench and accepts a 1-0 loss. I don’t want a Peter Vermes cursing and yelling at everyone, but at least a coach with a little fire.

    Oh yeah, and I don’t blame the players at all. They’re limited but with the right pieces (A LEFT BACK!!!) and a real coach, they could be a good (not great) MLS team.

    Oh yeah, and if the losing streak continues then I bet the attendance drops off considerably. What happens then? Are the owners prepared to lose $ on this team? Or to sell it? Or to invest in a real technical staff?

  4. BRING BACK HACKWORTH! We need a winner here!!!

  5. I’m surprised that more isn’t being made of Sheanon Williams demotion. As a Union fan I should be angry at this because I think Sheanon has more to offer than Gaddis but in the bizarro world of the Union this is a good thing because at least the Union have made a decision. For better or worse they have chosen Gaddis and are searching for a Left Back instead of dicking around with 2 players and a bandaid solution. The Philadelphia Union where doing the bare minimum is a sign of progress!

    • Dan Walsh says:

      Not sure what Williams did to get in Curtin’s doghouse. I had already picked what to focus my column on this week. Otherwise, it might be this. I like Gaddis, but Williams is much better going forward on either side.

      • My working theory is that Williams is just kind of done with the Union. Being in the middle of this clownshow of an organization would burn anyone out.
        It might just be time for him to move on.

      • Dan Walsh says:

        I think so too.

      • So yea. Once it becomes apparent that whats best for the Union and Williams is that they part ways the first thing the Union does is undermine his trade value by publicly demoting him.

    • Section 114 (Formerly) says:

      I don’t think this is a doghouse as much as a recognition of Gaddis’s superior performance over the last season and a quarter. Last year, Williams was good, but Gaddis was better. This season, Williams has had a “meh” season. Gaddis has been the strongest player in the back not named Edu. This was the right call.
      For now, he should play and Fabinho should slather on the zinc oxide in preparation for lift-off. Once we bring in a real left back (PLEASE!), Williams could get a chance elsewhere. Or he can battle back and beat out Gaddis. Or he can become a fifth defender extraordinaire, spelling Gaddis, the left back, and the center backs.
      This is what should happen all over the field. Unfortunately we have the Union method where everyone “owns” their spot for a season too long.

      • Gaddis hasn’t been better than Williams on D they just play differently,

      • The Black Hand says:

        I disagree

      • George H says:

        Totally agree with you sieve. Declaring Gaddis the starting RB for the rest of the season makes zero sense from a performance perspective. Williams has not really played well this season, but neither has Gaddis.

        If Robbie Findley could finish, would Curtin have still made this type of declaration?

      • The Black Hand says:

        I don’t put much weight in ANYTHING that Jim Curtin declares. If Gaddis falters, he will get yanked…as he should.
        Let’s not overlook the fact that RB was Sheanon Williams’ CEMENTED position. He LOST it, for a number of reasons (Poor marking, terrible fouls, abandoning the back line, failing to keep up with fitness…etc…).
        Ray Gaddis has not been superb…or even particularly good, but he has the excuse of being played on the Left…where he has always struggled. I thought that our back line looked stronger with Ray at RB and that he did a pretty good job getting up the flank…but that’s just me. I think that Sheanon can contribute offensively (all I really see from him…if he even does that), from LB. I think that the switch makes the back line stronger, as a whole.
        My apologies for going all ‘Don King’ over Ray Gaddis. I think that the kid is a player, and with a decent run at RB, I think he will back me up.
        Ray, you better fucking back me up!!!!!

      • alicat215 says:

        Williams gets caught up the pitch….a lot, and opponents target in behind him. They don’t have that problem with Gaddis………thats it in a nutshell.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Which enemy attacking channel tends to get played through more, the one defended by our left back (the enemy’s right side) or the one defended by our right back (the enemy’s left).
      Would you not say that even at the professional level the attack through the right channel tends to be a little more frequent? From the perspective of defense only, my left back needs to be the stronger of the two flank defenders in a flat back four. Pros hope to attack the side they perceive to be weaker, of course.
      The crazy off-the-wall thought I have been having since Saturday is to ask whether Richie Marquez could be a serviceable flank defender. His feet are technically superior to either Gaddis or Williams, as is his poise on the ball.

      • The Black Hand says:

        You know far more about Marquez than I do, Coach. Personally, I would like to see how he does with a run at CB. We could REALLY use one of those. He looked pretty damn good…

  6. My concern is that there is a point when we become undesireable. a place where even if we wanted to spend money, even if we build facilities, even if we get a cohesive development plan no one will want to come. we will have to overpay for lesser talent. thats the cycle. We all can name some cities/companies that we would not want to live in or work for if given a choice. Those players without a choice are who we have. not the ones with choice. Edu is about the only player who sort of came here on purpose. thats not saying much (also i am not saying I dislike him) wins/losses they come and go, reputation for being cheap, untrustworthy, incompetent etc that lingers for a long while.
    I am tired of complaining. be it about the owners/players/coaches/fan groups/myself unfortunately its unproductive. who would want to buy this team. is a year down with a mls takeover going to change anything. I love going to games and love watching the union play but when I start to enjoy watching the opposing teams players this much I feel sad.

    • el pachyderm says:

      but we have Yards.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Is not any form of distilled spirits more efficient in anesthetizing pain and inducing oblivion?

    • I had 2 thoughts to your point. The 1st is that even Toronto, a team ripe with mismanagement, aging facilities, mis-allocated spending and no real long-term plan was able to land Bradley and Altidore. But then my 2nd thought was “oh yeah, the league had to create or side-step a few rules to make those happen, and there’s no way they would do that for Philly.” So I guess we have become the new Toronto. It’s too bad the league overlooks this team so much. Some teams are happy to get 15,000 a game, the Union are still drawing 17,000+ with that dreadful product on the field.

      • el pachyderm says:

        yea but we have Yards.

      • hobosocks says:

        I think the league overlooks the team BECAUSE of the bad management. We were the darlings of the league for a while when we had that new expansion smell. And whenever Garber talked about soccer cities, he always mentioned Philly. Now he doesn’t.
        I don’t think that’s because the Union has been around a bit longer. I think its because MLS realized that the Philly ownership group is not to be taken seriously like KC or the new Columbus ownership. Why promote a team when you don’t trust the people in charge?
        I know that’s just a gut feeling, but I can’t help but think its accurate.

    • hobosocks says:

      Good point. Also worth mentioning that Edu chose to come here because of connections with a guy that doesn’t work for the team anymore.

  7. The Union’s main issue is its overall lack of direction or leadership. Ownership and the Front Office are culpable (of course) but to me the main issue is the manager. The only “big money” manager the Union have ever had was Nowak and I don’t think it is a coincidence that the only time we have ever made the play-offs was with Nowak as our manager. Clearly Nowak went crazy and had to go so we replaced him with his assistant coach Hackworth (read cheap hire) and, despite Sak’s claim of a “world-wide search”, ultimately replaced him with his assistant coach Curtin (read cheap hire). And now we are left with a team that seems to have no plan, no style of play and no direction. This team kind of reminds me of the mess that was the LA Galaxy before Arena was named manager/GM /head-honcho. That is exactly what this team needs – an experienced manager with a good track record of success who would have a clear plan and direction and who would command respect from every player in the locker room. But to get that type of manager you need to spend money. We have tried the young, cheap, up-and-coming American Manager thing twice now and it has failed both times. If I was in charge I would be harassing Bob Bradley to come back to MLS and offer him whatever it took to get it done.

    • No for me it’s the player personnel decisions, not the coach. I don’t think Fergie could win with this lot, much less Curtin.
      Think about it, they have roughly $600K or 1/5th of their payroll tied up in Fabinho, Fred, Carroll and M’Bohli. Those signing never made sense . . . ever. $600K buys a miminum three very good players who could start for this team and probably four. Start! Instead they spent it on 3 guys who were always going to be backups and another guy who we all know should never have been brought to town.
      They failed as always to utilize the expansion draft to their advantage. They should have acquired the rights to Corey Ashe, cut Fabinho and dealt Williams. It’s just so obvious and it’s been obvious for 4 years now this team needs true LB. But instead these guys just sit there and hope for the best, like Andy Reid thinking he didn’t need pro linebackers to win. It’s just exhausting thinking about how may personnel decisions this team f’s up year in and year out. (holding out on trading Berry, not starting Blake last year after picking him #1, paying Diego Gonzalez $150K to never play, holding onto unused International spots instead of trading them, waiting til the last minute to acquire players, Danny Califf, not signing any Homegrown players for 3+ years, and never playing those guys they did sign, on and on and on an nauseaum). This team will never be successful until they hire a person who knows what they are doing to scout, draft, trade and sign players. You literally could rebuild this team in a year if they brought in someone who could actually evaluate talent. But that will never happen under Saks watch and that’s the problem

      • To further illustrate your point on how much of a waste that $600k is (which is likely substantially more this year because of M’Bolhi), use Columbus as a comparable. Smaller market, not particularly a “destination” location, rarely if ever break the bank on spending. Yet….


        Philly – two mids, goalkeeper, left back. $590K spend of $3.1 mil cap (2014 numbers, since 2015 isn’t out yet)
        M’Bolhi – $240K (likely $500K this year)
        Carrol – $185K
        Fabinho – $100K
        Fred – $65K


        Columbus – two mids, goalkeeper, left back. $620K spend of $3.1 mil cap.
        Steve Clark – $138,333
        Will Trapp – $152,000
        Tony Tchani – $175,000
        Waylon Franics – $153,875


        Their designated player – Federico Higuain. A true game changer. Not the kind of guy you can find in this league on the cheap unless your international scouting is top notch or you pick up a guy like Lee Nguyen on the rebound.


        Our designated player – Mo Edu. Hell of a guy, absolutely a quality player… worth DP money? Substantially better than a $200K/year player like say…..Okugo?


        Roster maximization and spending your discretionary DP funds wisely are EVERYTHING in this league. The cap does not afford teams the luxury of bad signings and bad contracts, it punishes those things mercilessly. Fortunately, roster maximization and spending wisely are not all that hard to do in this league. Hell, the league TRIES to make it that way. Thus, change can happen quickly. But it takes a good front office and a plan. And well, those things….. we ain’t got.

    • alicat215 says:

      yep, +1. I shake my head at the thought……but we haven’t been the same since Nowak’s been in charge, crazy huh? Say what you want about him and yes, he did go off the deep end. But, the guy had a plan….and ultimate control of the locker room!

  8. el pachyderm says:

    This week the Union slide down the MLS Power Rankings chart below sulphr-y fart smell.

  9. Gaddis is not better than Williams when you put things together. How many goals has he scored since joining the Union? How many times has Williams put crosses upon crosses into the box…..never to see a goal scored from them. They are both two different players but Williams is not no left back and to say he has to fight for his spot against Fabinho is a slap in his face. Curtin needs to be fired, he has made of mess of this team and it is getting worst. When are they going to realize he is not a coach. Everyone blamed Hack for the downfall of the Union but who do we blame now. Is Curtin not the coach? It’s time for his departure!!

    • alicat215 says:

      Goals scored????? He’s a back…his priority is to give up nothing to the opposition. Should flank backs get into the attack at this level, of course. But their number one priority is still holding the opponent to zero…….which, Gaddis makes a priority compared to Williams.

  10. OneManWolfpack says:

    This is what happens when you have an inexperienced manager who is out of ideas… and a front office who is somehow worse. We are mainly in the position we are in because of the FO. Curtain is terrible, and should be an assistant. The FO has no desire to win. They have no direction on how to win. They don’t care. We care. They don’t. Same shit… different day.

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